Country Listing

Lebanon Table of Contents


The Air Force and Navy

In 1987 the Lebanese Air Force consisted of about 800 mostly Maronite enlisted men and officers under the command of General Fahim al Hajj. Its main base was Al Qulayat airfield, in the north near the Syrian border--an area under the control of Syrian forces. Additional military airfields were at Riyaq in the Biqa Valley, and at Halat near Jubayl, where United States forces built an emergency landing strip using part of the coastal highway.

In 1987 the airforce was composed of one helicopter attack squadron equipped with four French-made SA-342 Gazelle helicopters armed with SS-11 and SS 12 air-to-surface missiles, twenty-eight AB-212 transports, and SA-315 and SA-316 Alouette transport helicopters. These helicopters were capable of airlifting 300 men. In 1983 the air force had planned to increase its helicopter fleet to forty aircraft, and the Lebanese government signed an agreement with France to purchase about US$80 million worth of unspecified air force equipment. These plans were shelved after the French MNF contingent withdraw in 1984, however. The exact number of operational fixed-wing and jet aircraft in the air force inventory was not available in 1987. The air force apparently lost three of its ten semiobsolete British-made Hawker-Hunter F-70 fighter jets in the 1983-84 Mountain War, and only three of those remaining were reported to be serviceable. The air force was reported to have ten French-made Mirage fighter-bombers, of which only three were in commission. It also had eleven trainers--five Fouga Magisters and six propeller-driven Bulldogs.

In 1987 the Lebanese Navy consisted of 450 sailors and officers stationed at a naval base in Juniyah. Most personnel were Christians. The navy's fleet included six Aztec-class patrol boats, three Byblos-class patrol boats, and two French-made landing craft capable of transporting tanks and of being used in beachhead and evacuation operations.

Data as of December 1987